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Sun releases 64-bit Solaris beta

by David Pendery

Sun Microsystems launched the second phase of its next version of the Solaris operating environment with an initial beta release to developers.

Sun senior product manager Patrick Dorsey says 1200 ISVs and customers are evaluating the Solaris beta, in addition to Sun's partners in its Solaris-on-Merced efforts - NCR, Siemens-Nixdorf and Fujitsu.

The beta program will be increased to 2000 testers and developers later this year, culminating in the general availability of 64-bit Solaris.

The 64-bit software includes a development environment and compiler, debugger, conversion and tool support. The beta's 64-bit capabilities also extend to its kernel, virtual addressing, large-file capabilities, and other OS elements. Dorsey said, however, that the Java virtual machine that operates on Solaris is still 32-bit.

Sun claims that a 64-bit environment expands the computing bandwidth to more than four billion times as large as 32-bit environments. On the hardware side, a 64-bit address bus allows the processor to address 18 million gigabytes, compared to the 4GB allowed with 32 bits.

Developers can utilise the SunDeveloper Connection program at the Solaris beta Web site for details on technical issues, pointers to development tools, Application Binary Interface certification and a posting site for communicating with Solaris engineers. The site is at www.sun.com/developers/membership/individual/beta.htmlOpen group releases Unix 98 specificationThe Open Group has announced the release of its Unix 98 specifications, formulated by the Open Group, vendors and users. It is designed to standardise Unix application and development environments.

IBM with AIX, and Sun and NCR - both with Sun Solaris, have already announced that their products are compliant with the specifications.

"We have largely achieved a goal of unifying the industry around a single specification," said Graham Bird, Open Group director of marketing.

The Open Group, created in 1996 as a merger of the X/Open Company and the Open Software Foundation, has developed Unix standards for several years. Its constituents' most recent Unix 9x specification was Unix 95.

Unix 98 is actually a family of standards, including Unix 98 Base, Unix 98 Workstation and Unix 98 Server.

The current Unix 98 Server standard incorporates many Internet specifications not included in previous versions, including Java virtual machine support, Java Runtime Environment, TCP/IP, SNMP, Hypertext Transfer Protocol Services, and DNS.

"We wanted to take the next logical step in a Unix specification, and recognise the Internet is the way the world is going," Bird said. "Otherwise, we will end up with all these incompatibilities that we are trying to work out of the system."

Unix 98's standards include the support of standardised threads and real-time, large file system APIs; and it is year 2000- and 64-bit-compliant, Bird said.

Document-management the hot topic at AIIMby Jeff WalshResearchers released the results of a recent study on document management at the Association for Information and Image Management International (AIIM) show in the US last week.

The show featured a bevy of software developers trying to get a chunk of the growing document-management market.

Both the association and International Data Corp (IDC) announced the results of a worldwide market research study analysing document management and imaging, workflow, electronic document management, computer output to laser disk, full-text retrieval, and film-based imaging.

IDC found that the revenue opportunity for suppliers of hardware, software, maintenance, and services in this market is expected to grow from $US13.9 billion this year to $US33 billion in the year 2002.

The study found document management will see the strongest growth, tripling its market from $US3 billion at present to more than $US9.5 billion in 2002. The second largest growing market within this study was workflow, which will grow from $US2.8 billion at present to a $US7 billion market in 2002.

The study identified the major trends fuelling this growth as the Internet explosion; the rapid deployment of corporate intranets; the integration of document-management systems; standards development; scalability into the enterprise; and knowledge management.

Micro Focus tackles Y2K

by Benjamin Keyser

Micro Focus has announced two additions to its Mainframe Express suite that are designed to move year 2000 testing off the mainframe and onto the PC.

The first addition aimed at fragment testing, is called TouchPoint 2000. The other is for unit and integration testing, and is called WinRunner 2000.

TouchPoint 2000 automates fragment testing by locating and isolating newly-added date-fixing logic, or windowing logic. It then feeds a test matrix of dates and other variables to the fragment and documents the output. Built-in data ageing lets test scripts cover a range of dates rapidly without having to alter the actual database.

Testing

WinRunner 2000, the result of an OEM agreement with Mercury Interactive, provides unit and integration testing, the final testing stages before integrating the new code into production. It is embedded into the Mainframe Express suite of PC mainframe development tools from Micro Focus.

Micro Focus hopes to elimi-nate the dumb terminal from programmers' desks and shift the programming work to the PC with the introduction of another bundle of tools called the Mainframe Maintenance Solution.

The suite includes an edit-compile-debug tool; source-code control; transparent manage- ment and synchronisation of application code and data from the mainframe as needed Object-oriented databases:hot stuff or niche technology?by Gail BalfourThe adoption of object-oriented (OO) databases is still behind that predicted by some, but one industry analyst says the technology is valuable because it often succeeds where other systems fail.

"There are certain things that relational databases are terrible at," said Robert Craig, vice president of application architectures at the Hurwitz Group in the US. "There are particular kinds of business problems that object databases are definitely optimised to solve, which either object-relational or pure-relational [databases] just wouldn't be able to deal with effectively."

Some of these tasks include handling large mines of multimedia data and joining large numbers of complex data elements, such as a table that's been linked in 20 different ways, he said. "That kind of thing's going to bring a relational database to its knees. But if you build that on an object-oriented database - it's going to hum.

"The other area where object-oriented databases will probably play an increasingly important role is in development repositories - simply because they give you the ability to have all different kinds of things thrown into a database," Craig continued. "Which is very useful when you have a large, complex development project going on."

In Canada, the Saskatchewan Department of Justice (DoJ) is in the process of implementing Jasmine, the object-oriented database management system from Computer Associates, to handle tasks such as its budget forecasting application. The office, which has divisions in 16 cities and 65 different buildings, was finding its home-grown mainframe-based system "too inflexible" to handle multiple transactions, says Bryan Steiner, desktop support manager for the province's justice department.

The DoJ handles many areas of provincial justice such as land titles, public trustees, criminal justice and wards of the state, and many of these require a photographic record.

Steiner said the department is looking into digital photography as an extension of its services and needs a database that can handle images. Currently, the DoJ's process entails "taking a print and sticking it into a file folder," he said.

According to Guido Smit, president of Sybase Canada, people are really only interested in four types of objects: geospatial, time series, text and occasionally audio-visual. "That's really where it stops. People have not been in such an enormous hurry to put all kinds of new and innovative stuff into their databases."

W3C improves Web page display and privacy specificationsby Jeff Walsh and Nancy WeilThe World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is seeking to improve the end-user experience on the Web with recent announcements that involve privacy and better Web page display and creation.

The W3C last week made public a draft of the Platform for Privacy Preferences (P3P) specification, which will enable software applications to inform end users of the privacy practices of the Internet sites they visit. Three weeks ago, the W3C recommended Cascading Style Sheets Level 2 (CSS2), which will bring about more feature-rich, accessible Web pages.

Applications written to the P3P specification would automatically check a Web site's privacy policy which is embedded in the site, according to Joseph Reagle, policy manager for the P3P. The P3P specification works on the client side in Web browser software and could also be implemented in server software.

Under the specification, users could configure their computers so private information, such as credit card numbers, is transmitted only when a site conforms with policy standards acceptable to that individual user. Computers can be configured to always deliver a prompt to let users know when a site asks for privacy information, or to prompt them only if the information asked for is not what they are willing to provide.

The working draft released last week will be followed by another version in six weeks, after the W3C has collected user comments about the specification, Reagle said.

Later in the year

The P3P then will be put on the consortium's recommendation track with the expectation it will be approved by the W3C in September or October, and will be in use in its final form by the year's end, he added.

Although technically unrelated to P3P, CSS2 will also benefit end users by delivering richer-formatted Web sites, which are easier to author.

Without CSS2, HTML authors had to use tricks under the HTML hood to make things appear as they wanted.


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